Chapter

Liberty and Armageddon

Gifford Lectures

in The Lesser Evil

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print April 2004 | ISBN: 9780748618729
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748671892 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748618729.003.0006
Liberty and Armageddon

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This chapter addresses the acquisition by terrorist groups of weapons of mass destruction. If this were to occur, the state's ultimate powers of violence would pass into private hands, either those of a terrorist internationale such as Al Qaeda, or those of a superempowered loner – a lonely citizen with a grudge and the capability to hold his entire nation hostage. These scenarios would take us into a new world, in which terrorism might transmute from an eternal but manageable challenge to liberal democracy into a potentially lethal foe. The chapter considers the worst-case scenario in order to pose, as starkly as possible, the questions with which the book began: whether our democracies are strong enough to cope with these dangers, and how to strengthen the institutions we are committed to defend.

Keywords: terrorism; terrorist groups; mass destruction; violence; state; liberal democracy

Chapter.  9144 words. 

Subjects: Moral Philosophy

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